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Material taken from www.standingthegap.org

Quotes from Early Disciples, Many who followed the Original Apostles:

...But lest some suppose, from what has been said by us, that we say that whatever happens, happens by a fatal necessity, because it is foretold as known beforehand, this too we explain. We have learned from the prophets, and we hold it to be true, that punishments, and chastisements, and good rewards, are rendered according to the merit of each man’s actions. Since if it be not so, but all things happen by fate, neither is anything at all in our own power. For if it be fated that this man, e.g., be good, and this other evil, neither is the former meritorious nor the latter to be blamed. And again, unless the human race have the power of avoiding evil and choosing good by free choice, they are not accountable for their actions, of whatever kind they be. But that it is by free choice they both walk uprightly and stumble, we thus demonstrate. We see the same man making a transition to opposite things. Now, if it had been fated that he were to be either good or bad, he could never have been capable of both the opposites, nor of so many transitions. But not even would some be good and others bad, since we thus make fate the cause of evil, and exhibit her as acting in opposition to herself; or that which has been already stated would seem to be true, that neither virtue nor vice is anything, but that things are only reckoned good or evil by opinion; which, as the true word SHOWS, is the greatest impiety and wickedness. But this we assert is inevitable fate, that they who choose the good have worthy rewards, and they who choose the opposite have their merited awards. For not like other things, as trees and quadrupeds, which cannot act by choice, did God make man: for neither would he be worthy of reward or praise did he not of himself choose the good, but were created for this end; nor, if he were evil, would he be worthy of punishment, not being evil of himself, but being able to be nothing else than what he was made." JustinMartyr

Justin Martyr of the Early Church said, “Every created being is so constituted as to be capable of vice and virtue. For he can do nothing praiseworthy, if he had not the power of turning either way.” And “unless we suppose man has THE POWER TO CHOOSE the good and refuse the evil, no one can be accountable for any action whatever.” (Doctrine of the Will by Asa Mahan, p. 61, published by Truth in Heart)

Tertullian of the same century said, “No reward can be justly bestowed, no punishment can be justly inflicted, upon him who is good or bad by necessity, and not by his own choice.” (Doctrine of the Will by Asa Mahan, p. 61, published by Truth in Heart)

Origen said, “The soul does not incline to either part out of necessity, for then neither vice nor virtue could be ascribed to it; nor would its choice of virtue deserve reward; nor its declination to vice punishment.” Again, “How could God require that of man which he [man] had not power to offer Him?” (Doctrine of the Will by Asa Mahan, p. 62, published by Truth in Heart)

Clement of Alexandria said, “Neither promises nor apprehensions, rewards, no punishments are just if the soul has not the power of choosing and abstaining; if evil is involuntary.” (Doctrine of the Will by Asa Mahan, p. 63, published by Truth in Heart)

Jerome said, “God has bestowed us with free will. We are not necessarily drawn either to virtue or vice. For when necessity rules, there is no room left either for d**nation or the crown.” (Doctrine of the Will by Asa Mahan, p. 62, published by Truth in Heart)

Tertullian said, “In pursuance of that aspect of the association of body and soul that we now have to consider, we maintain that the puberty of the soul coincides with that of the body. Generally speaking, they both attain together this full growth at about the fourteenth year of life. The soul attains it by the suggestion of the senses, and the body attains it by the growth of the bodily members. I do not mention [the age of fourteen] because reflection begins at that age (as Asclepiades supposes). Nor do I choose it because the civil laws date the commencement of the real BUSINESS of life from this age. Rather, I choose it because this was the appointed order from the very first. For after their obtaining knowledge of good and evil, Adam and Eve felt that they must cover their nakedness. Likewise, we profess to have the same discernment of good and evil from the time that we experience the same sensation of shame. Now, beginning with the aforementioned age, sex is suffused and clothed with a special sensibility. This eye gives way to lust and communicates its pleasure to another. It understands the natural relations between male and female, and it wears the fig-leaf apron to cover the shame that it still excites.” (c.160, A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 7, published by Hendrickson Publishers)

Justin Martyr said, “The human race…from Adam had fallen under the power of death and the guile of the serpent. Each one had committed personal transgression.” (c.160, A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 271, published by Hendrickson Publishers)

Justin Martyr said, “The whole human race will be found to be under a curse. For it is written in the Law of Moses, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not CONTINUE in all things that are written in the book of the Law and do them.’ And no one has accurately done them all.” (c.160, A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 271, published by Hendrickson Publishers)

Irenaeus said, “By means of our first parents, we were all brought into bondage by being made subject to death.” (c.180, A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 271, published by Hendrickson Publishers)

Justin Martyr said, “In the beginning, He made the human race with the power of thought and of choosing truth and doing RIGHT, so that all men are without excuse before God.” (c.160, A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 271, published by Hendrickson Publishers)

Justin Martyr said, “Let some suppose, from what has been said by us, that we say that whatever occurs happens by a fatal necessity, because it is foretold as known beforehand, this too we explain. We have learned from the prophets, and we hold it to be true, that punishments, chastisements, and good rewards, are rendered according to the merit of each man’s actions. Now, if this is not so, but all things happen by fate, then neither is anything at all in our own power. For if it is predetermined that this man will be good, and this other man will be evil, neither is the first one meritorious nor the latter man to be blamed. And again, unless the human race has the power of avoiding evil and choosing good by free choice, they are not accountable for their actions.” (c.160, A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 271, published by Hendrickson Publishers)

Justin Martyr said, “I have proved in what has been said that those who were foreknown to be unrighteous, whether men or angels, are not made wicked by God’s fault. Rather, each man is what he will appear to be through his own fault.” (c.160, A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 286, published by Hendrickson Publishers)

Tatian said, “We were not created to die. Rather, we die by our own fault. Our free will has destroyed us. We who were free have become slaves. We have been sold through sin. Nothing evil has been created by God. We ourselves have manifested wickedness. But we, who have manifested it, are able again to reject it.” (c.160, A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 286, published by Hendrickson Publishers)

Melito said, “There is, therefore, nothing to hinder you from changing your evil manner to life, because you are a free man.” (c.170, A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 286, published by Hendrickson Publishers)

Theophilus said, “If, on the other hand, he would turn to the things of death, disobeying God, he would himself be the cause of death to himself. For God made man free, and with power of himself.” (c.180, A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 286, published by Hendrickson Publishers)

Irenaeus said, “But man, being endowed with reason, and in this respect similar to God, having been made free in his will, and with power over himself, is himself his own cause that sometimes he becomes wheat, and sometimes chaff.” (c.180, A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 286, published by Hendrickson Publishers)

Irenaeus said, “’Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good deeds’…And ‘Why call me, Lord, Lord, and do not do the things that I say?’…All such passages demonstrate the independent will of man…For it is in man’s power to disobey God and to forfeit what is good.” (c.180, A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 287, published by Hendrickson Publishers)

Clement of Alexandria said, “We…have believed and are saved by voluntary choice.” (c.195, A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 287, published by Hendrickson Publishers)

Clement of Alexandria said, “Each one of us who sins with his own free will, chooses punishment. So the blame lies with him who chooses. God is without blame.” (c.195, A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 287, published by Hendrickson Publishers)

Clement of Alexandria said, “To obey or not is in our own power, provided we do not have the excuse of ignorance.” (c.195, A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 287, published by Hendrickson Publishers) • Tertullian said, “I find, then, that man was constituted free by God. He was master of his own will and power…For a law would not be imposed upon one who did not have it in his power to render that obedience which is due to law. Nor again, would the penalty of death be threatened against sin, if a contempt of the law were impossible to man in the liberty of his will…Man is free, with a will either for obedience or resistance. (c.207, A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 288, published by Hendrickson Publishers)

"being Justified without charge by His Favor, THROUGH THE RELEASE BY RANSOM, of the one by Christ Jesus" Rom3:24 Septuagint

 

Justin Martyr said “In the beginning, He made the human race with the power of thought and of choosing truth and doing RIGHT, so that all men are without excuse before God.” (c.160, A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 271, published by Hendrickson Publishers)

Every created being is so constituted as to be capable of vice and virtue. For he can do nothing praiseworthy, if he had not the power of turning either way.” And “unless we suppose man has THE POWER TO CHOOSE the good and refuse the evil, no one can be accountable for any action whatever.” (Doctrine of the Will by Asa Mahan, p. 61, published by Truth in Heart)    

"But lest some suppose, from what has been said by us, that we say that whatever happens, happens by a fatal necessity, because it is foretold as known beforehand, this too we explain. We have learned from the prophets, and we hold it to be true, that punishments, and chastisements, and good rewards, are rendered according to the merit of each man's actions. Since if it be not so, but all things happen by fate, neither is anything at all in our own power. For if it be fated that this man, e.g., be good, and this other evil, neither is the former meritorious nor the latter to be blamed. And again, unless the human race have the power of avoiding evil and choosing good by free choice, they are not accountable for their actions, of whatever kind they be. But that it is by free choice they both walk uprightly and stumble, we thus demonstrate. We see the same man making a transition to opposite things. Now, if it had been fated that he were to be either good or bad, he could never have been capable of both the opposites, nor of so many transitions.(First Apology, ch. 42, p. 177)

"But this we assert is inevitable fate, that they who choose the good have worthy rewards, and they who choose the opposite have their merited awards. For not like other things, as trees and quadrupeds, which cannot act by choice, did God make man: for neither would he be worthy of reward or praise did he not of himself choose the good, but were created for this end; nor, if he were evil, would he be worthy of punishment, not being evil of himself, but being able to be nothing else than what he was made. (First Apology, ch. 43, p. 177)

"But neither do we affirm that it is by fate that men do what they do, or suffer what they suffer, 
but that each man by free choice acts rightly or sins; and that it is by the influence of the wicked demons that earnest men, such as Socrates and the like, suffer persecution and are in bonds, while Sardanapalus, Epicurus, and the like, seem to be blessed in abundance and glory. The Stoics, not observing this, maintained that all things take place according to the necessity of fate. But since God in the beginning made the race of angels and men with free-will, they will justly suffer in eternal fire the punishment of whatever sins they have committed. And this is the nature of all that is made, to be capable of vice and virtue. For neither would any of them be praiseworthy unless there were power to turn to both [virtue and vice]. (Second Apology, ch. 7, p. 190)

"Furthermore, I have proved in what has preceded, that those who were foreknown to be unrighteous, whether men or angels, are not made wicked by God's fault, but each man by his own fault is what he will appear to be." (Dialogue with Trypho, ch. 139, p. 269)

"But that you may not have a pretext for saying that Christ must have been crucified, and that those who transgressed must have been among your nation, and that the matter could not have been otherwise, I said briefly by anticipation, that God, wishing men and angels to follow His will, resolved to create them free to do righteousness; possessing reason, that they may know by whom they are created, and through whom they, not existing formerly, do now exist; and with a law that they should be judged by Him, if they do anything contrary to RIGHT reason: and of ourselves we, men and angels, shall be convicted of having acted sinfully, unless we repent beforehand. But if the word of God foretells that some angels and men shall be certainly punished, it did so because it foreknew that they would be unchangeably [wicked], but not because God had created them so. (Dialogue with Trypho, ch. 141, p. 269-270)

 "Here, then, is a proof of virtue, and of a mind loving prudence, to recur to the communion of the unity, and to attach one's self to prudence for salvation, and make choice of the better things according to the free-will placed in man; (On the Sole Government of God, ch. 6, p. 293)

Tertullian of the same century said, “No reward can be justly bestowed, no punishment can be justly inflicted, upon him who is good or bad by necessity, and not by his own choice.” (Doctrine of the Will by Asa Mahan, p. 61, published by Truth in Heart)

I find, then, that man was constituted free by God. He was master of his own will and power…For a law would not be imposed upon one who did not have it in his power to render that obedience which is due to law. Nor again, would the penalty of death be threatened against sin, if a contempt of the law were impossible to man in the liberty of his will…Man is free, with a will either for obedience or resistance."(c.207, A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 288, published by Hendrickson Publishers)

Origen said, “The soul does not incline to either part out of necessity, for then neither vice nor virtue could be ascribed to it; nor would its choice of virtue deserve reward; nor its declination to vice punishment.” Again, “How could God require that of man which he [man] had not power to offer Him?” (Doctrine of the Will by Asa Mahan, p. 62, published by Truth in Heart)

Ignatius said, "Seeing, then, all things have an end, and there is set before us life upon our observance [of God’s precepts], but death as the result of disobedience, and every one, according to the choice he makes, shall go to his own place, let us flee from death, and make choice of life. For I remark, that two different characters are found among men — the one true coin, the other spurious. The truly devout man is the RIGHT kind of coin, stamped by God Himself. The ungodly man, again, is false coin, unlawful, spurious, counterfeit, wrought not by God, but by the devil. I do not mean to say that there are two different human natures, but that there is one humanity, sometimes belonging to God, and sometimes to the devil. If any one is truly religious, he is a man of God; but if he is irreligious, he is a man of the devil, made such, not by nature, but by his own choice. The unbelieving bear the image of the prince of wickedness. The believing possess the image of their Prince, God the Father, and Jesus Christ, through whom, if we are not in readiness to die for the truth into His passion, His life is not in us." (Ignatius, Epistle to the Magnesians, V) 

Clement of Rome said, "On account of his hospitality and godliness, Lot was saved out of Sodom when all the country round was punished by means of fire and brimstone, the Lord thus making it manifest that He does not forsake those that hope in Him, but gives up such as depart from Him to punishment and torture. For Lot’s wife, who went forth with him, being of a different mind from himself and not CONTINUING in agreement with him [as to the command which had been given them], was made an example of, so as to be a pillar of salt unto this day. This was done that all might know that those who are of a double mind, and who distrust the power of God, bring down judgment on themselves? and become a sign to all succeeding generations." (Clement, Epistle to the Corinthians, XI) 

Barnabas said,"The Lord will judge the world without respect of persons. Each will receive as he has done: if he is righteous, his righteousness will precede him; if he is wicked, the reward of wickedness is before him. Take heed, lest resting at our ease, as those who are the called [of God], we should fall asleep in our sins, and the wicked prince, acquiring power over us, should thrust us away from the kingdom of the Lord. And all the more attend to this, my brethren, when ye reflect and behold, that after so great signs and wonders were wrought in Israel, they were thus [at length] abandoned. Let us beware lest we be found [fulfilling that saying], as it is written, “Many are called, but few are chosen.” (Epistle of Barnabas, IV) 

Clement of Alexandria said, “Neither promises nor apprehensions, rewards, no punishments are just if the soul has not the power of choosing and abstaining; if evil is involuntary. (Doctrine of the Will by Asa Mahan, p. 63, published by Truth in Heart)

We…have believed and are saved by voluntary choice.” (c.195, A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 287, published by Hendrickson Publishers)

Each one of us who sins with his own free will, chooses punishment. So the blame lies with him who chooses. God is without blame.” (c.195, A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 287, published by Hendrickson Publishers)

To obey or not is in our own power, provided we do not have the excuse of ignorance.” (c.195, A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 287, published by Hendrickson Publishers) 

"The Lord clearly SHOWS sins and transgressions to be in our own power." (c.195, A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 288, published by Hendrickson Publishers) 

Woe unto them!” he says, “for they have gone in the way of Cain.” For so also we lie under Adam’s sin through similarity of sin.(Clement of Alexandria c. 195)

If thou wilt be perfect.” Consequently he was not yet perfect. For nothing is more perfect than what is perfect. And divinely the expression “if thou wilt” SHOWED the self-determination of the soul holding converse with Him. For choice depended on the man as being free; but the gift on God as the Lord. And He gives to those who are willing and are exceedingly earnest, and ask, that so their salvation may become their own. For God compels not (for compulsion is repugnant to God), but supplies to those who seek, and bestows on those who ask, and opens to those who knock. (Clement of Alexandria c. 195)

"Nor shall he who is saved be saved against his will, for he is not inanimate; but he will above all voluntarily and of free choice speed to salvation. Wherefore also man received the commandments in order that he might be self-impelled, to whatever he wished of things to be chosen and to be avoided. Wherefore God does not do good by necessity, but from His free choice benefits those who spontaneously turn." (Clement of Alexandria (c. 150-215) Stromata, Bk vii ch.7)

Alexander of Alexandria said, "Natural will is the free facutly of ever intelligent nature, as having nothing involuntary pertaining to its essence". (c.195, A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 293, published by Hendrickson Publishers) 

Tatian said, “We were not created to die. Rather, we die by our own fault. Our free will has destroyed us. We who were free have become slaves. We have been sold through sin. Nothing evil has been created by God. We ourselves have manifested wickedness. But we, who have manifested it, are able again to reject it. (c.160, A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 286, published by Hendrickson Publishers)

Melito said, “There is, therefore, nothing to hinder you from changing your evil manner to life, because you are a free man.” (c.170, A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 286, published by Hendrickson Publishers)

Theophilus said, “If, on the other hand, he would turn to the things of death, disobeying God, he would himself be the cause of death to himself. For God made man free, and with power of himself. (c.180, A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 286, published by Hendrickson Publishers)

Methodius said, "Man was made with a free will ...[with the] capacity of obeying or disobeying God. For this was the meaning of the gift of free will."(c.180, A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 292, published by Hendrickson Publishers) 

"Those 
[pagans] who decide that man does not have free will, but say that he is governed by the unavoidable necessities of fate, are guilty of impiety toward God Himself, making Him out to be the cause and author of human evils. " (Methodius The Banquet of the Ten VIRGINS discourse 8, chap. 16) 

"To do good or evil is in our own power". (c.180, A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 292, published by Hendrickson Publishers) 

Archelaus said, "All the creatures that God made, He made very good. And He gave to every individual the sense of free will, by which standard He also instituted the law of judgment.... And certainly whoever will, may keep the commandments. Whoever despises them and turns aside to what is contrary to them, shall yet without doubt have to face this law of judgment.... There can be no doubt that every individual, in using his own proper power of will, may shape his course in whatever direction he pleases." (Archelaus Disputation With Manes sees. 32, 33)

Athenagoras of Athens said, "Just as with men who have freedom of choice as to both virture and vice (for you would not either honor the good or punish the bad; unless vice and virtue were in their own power, and some are diligent in the matters entrusted to them, and others faithless), so it is among the angels." (Athenagoras of Athens (c.177) Embassy for Christians XXIV) 

Irenaeus said, “But man, being endowed with reason, and in this respect similar to God, having been made free in his will, and with power over himself, is himself his own cause that sometimes he becomes wheat, and sometimes chaff.” (c.180, A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 286, published by Hendrickson Publishers) 

"’Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good deeds’…And ‘Why call me, Lord, Lord, and do not do the things that I say?’…All such passages demonstrate the independent will of man…For it is in man’s power to disobey God and to forfeit what is good.” (c.180, A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 287, published by Hendrickson Publishers)

"...
there is no coercion with God, but a good will is present with Him CONTINUALLY. And therefore does He give good councel to all. And in man as well as in angels, He has placed the power of choice (for angels are rational beings), so that that those who had yeilded obedience might justly possess what is good, given indeed by God, but preserved by themselves . . . If then it were not in our power to do or not to do these things, what reason had the apostle, and much more the Lord Himself, to give us counsel to do some things and to abstain from others? But because man is possessed of free-will from the beginning, and God is possessed of free-will in whose likeness man was created, advise is always given to him to keep  fast the good, which thing is done by means of obedience to God." (Irenaeus of Gaul (c. 130-200) Against Heresies, XXXVII)

John Chrysostom said, "All is in God's power, but so that our free-will is not lost... it depends therefore on us and on Him. We must first choose the good, and then He adds what belongs to Him. He does not precede our willing, that our free-will may not suffer. But when we have chosen, then He affords much help ... It is ours to choose beforehand and to will, but God's to perfect and bring to the end." (John Chrysostom (347-407) On Hebrews, Homily 12)

Cyril of Jerusalem said, "And you must know your soul to be endowed with free-will, and to be God's fairest work in the image of himself. It is immortal in as far as God grants it immortality. It is a rational living creature not subject to decay, because these qualities have been bestowed by God upon it. And it has the power to do what it chooses. For you do not sin because you were born that way, nor if you fornicate is it by chance. And do not take any notice of what some people say, that the conjunctions of the stars compel you to fall into unclean living. Why should you avoid acknowledging that you have done wrong by blaming it onto the stars that had nothing to do with it?" (Cyril of Jerusalem (c.350) Catechetical Lectures IV . 18 (109))

"Learn this also, that before it came into this world, your soul had committed no sin, but we come into the world unblemished, and, being here, sin of our own choice. Do not listen, I say, to anyone who expounds 'If then I do that which I would not' in the wrong sense, but remember who says, 'If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat of the good land; but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword,' and what follows." (Cyril of Jerusalem (c.350) Catechetical Lectures IV . 19)

Hippolytous said, "For man is able to both will and not will. He is endowed with power to do both." (c.180, A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs by David Bercot, p. 288, published by Hendrickson Publishers)

 

PELAGIUS TAUGHT:

Pelagius said, “Whenever I have to speak on the subject of moral instruction and conduct of a holy life, it is my practice first to demonstrate the power and quality of human nature and to SHOW what it is capable of achieving, and then to go on to encourage the mind of my listener to consider the idea of different kinds of virtues, in case it may be of little or no profit to him to be summoned to pursue ends which he has perhaps assumed hitherto to be beyond his reach; for we can never end upon the path of virtue unless we have hope as our guide and compassion…any good of which human nature is capable has to be revealed, since what is shown to be practicable must be put into practice.” (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 36-37, published by The Boydell Press)

Pelagius said, "It was because God wished to bestow on the rational creature the gift of doing good of his own free will and the capacity to exercise free choice, by implanting in man the possibility of choosing either alternative...he could do either quite naturally and then bend his will in the other direction too. He could not claim to possess the good of his own volition, unless he was the kind of creature that could also have possessed evil. Our most excellent creature wished us to be able to do either but actually to do only one, that is, good, which he also commanded, giving us the capacity to do evil only so that we might do His will by exercising our own. That being so, this very capacity to do evil is also good - good, I say, because it makes the good part better by making it voluntary and independent, not boud by necessity but free to decide for itself." (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 38, published by The Boydell Press)

Pelagius said, "Those who are unwilling to correct their own way of life appear to want to correct nature itself instead." (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 39, published by The Boydell Press)

Pelagius said, "And lest, on the other hand, it should be thought to be nature's fault that some have been unrighteous, I shall use the evidence of the scripture, which everywhere lay upon sinners the heavy weight of the charge of having used their own will and do not excuse them for having acted only under constraint of nature." (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 43, published by The Boydell Press)

Pelagius said, "Yet we do not defend the good of nature to such an extent that we claim that it cannot do evil, since we undoubtedly declare also that it is capable of good and evil; we merely try to protect it from an unjust charge, so that we may not seem to be forced to do evil through a fault of our nature, when, in fact, we do neither good nor evil without the exercise of our will and always have the freedom to do one of the two, being always able to do either." (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 43, published by The Boydell Press)

Pelagius said, "Nothing impossible has been commanded by the God of justice and majesty...Why do we indulge in pointless evasions, advancing the grailty of our own nature as an objectionto the one who commands us? No one knows better the true measure of our strength than he who has given it to us nor does anyone understand better how much we are able to do than he who has given us this very capacity of ours to be able; nor has he who is just wished to command anything impossible or he who is good intended to condemn a man for doing what he could not avoid doing." (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 53-54, published by The Boydell Press)

Pelagius said, "Grace indeed freely discharges sins, but with the consent and choice of the believer." (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 92, published by The Boydell Press)

Pelagius said, "Obedience results from a decision of the mind, not the substance of the body." (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 90, published by The Boydell Press)

An unknown Pelagian, "Is it possible then possible for a man not to sin? Such a claim is indeed a hard one and a bitter pill for sinners to swallow; it PAINS the ears of all who desire to live unrighteous. Who will find it easy now to fulfil the demands of righteousness, when there are some who find it hard even to listen to them?" An unknown Pelagian (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 167, published by The Boydell Press)

An unknown Pelagian, "When will a man guilty of any crime or sin accept with a tranquil mind that his wickedness is a product of his own will, not of necessity, and allow what he now strives to attribute to nature to be ascribed to his own free choice? It affords endless comfort to transgressors of the divine law if they are able to believe that their failure to do something is due to inability rather than disinclination, since they understand from their natural wisdom that no one can be judged for failing to do the impossible and that what is justifiable on grounds of impossibility is either a small sin or none at all." (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 167-168, published by The Boydell Press)

An unknown Pelagian, "Under the plea that it is impossible not to sin, they are given a false sense of security in sinning...Anyone who hears that it is not possible for him to be without sin will not even try to be what he judges to be impossible, and the man who does not try to be without sin must perforce sin all the time, and all the more boldly because he enjoys the false security of believing that it is impossible for him not to sin...But if he were to hear that he is able not to sin, then he would have exerted himself to fulfil what he now knows to be possible when he is striving to fulfil it, to achieve his purpose for the most part, even if not entirely." (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 168, published by The Boydell Press)

An unknown Pelagian, "Consider first whether that which is such that a man cannot be without it ought to be described as sin at all; for everything which cannot be avoided is now put down to nature but it is impious to say that sin is inherent in nature, because in this way the author of nature is being judged at fault… how can it be proper to call sin by that name if, like other natural things, it cannot be avoided, since all sin is to be attributed to the free choice of the will, not to the defects of nature?" (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 168-169, published by The Boydell Press)

 Pelagius and the Doctrine of Free Will

After his acquittal in Diospolis, Pelagius wrote two major treatises which are no longer extant, "On Nature" and "Defense Of The Freedom Of The Will." In these, he defends his position on sin and sinlessness, and accuses Augustine of being under the influence of Manicheanism by elevating evil to the same status as God and teaching pagan fatalism as if it were a Christian doctrine.

Augustine had been converted to Christianity from the religion of Manicheanism, which stressed that the spirit was God-created, while the flesh was corrupt and evil, since it had not been created directly by God. Pelagius argued that Augustine's doctrine that humans went to hell for doing what they could not avoid (sin) was tantamount to the Manichean belief in fatalism and predestination, and took away all of mankind's free will.

Pelagius and his followers saw remnants of this fatalistic belief in Augustine's teachings on the Fall of Adam, which was not a settled doctrine at the time the Augustinian/Pelagian dispute began. Their view that mankind can avoid sinning, and that we can freely choose to obey God's commandments, stand at the core of Pelagian teaching, and comes through even in the writings of Pelagius' opponents.

An illustration of Pelagius' views on man's "moral ability" not to sin can be found in his Letter to Demetrias. He was in Palestine when, in 413, he received a letter from the renowned Anician family in Rome. One of the aristocratic ladies who had been among his followers was writing to a number of eminent Western theologians, including Jerome and possibly Augustine, for moral advice for her 14-year-old daughter, Demetrias. Pelagius used the letter to argue his case for morality, stressing his views of natural sanctity and man's moral capacity to choose to live a holy life. It is perhaps the only extant writing in Pelagius' own hand, and it was, ironically, thought to be a letter by Jerome for centuries, though Augustine himself references it in his work, "On the Grace of Christ."

Pelagius was in perfect agreement with the Early Church Fathers on the doctrine of freewill.

In Rome, Pelagius became concerned about the moral laxity of society. He blamed this laxity on the theology of divine grace preached by Augustine, among others.

just like us

Pelagius did not believe that Salvation was something that happened to an "Elect" group of people, but rather that anybody could achieve Salvation. Salvation is achieved not through the arbitrary action of God, but through the repentance of sins. However, simply asking for forgiveness is not repentance. For Pelagius, repentance entails not only asking for forgiveness, but also choosing not to sin again. While Pelagius recognizes that people might, through habit or choice, sin again, he maintains that those sins need to be confessed, and an effort be made to avoid sin and act righteously (Pelagius, 1995, 39). Keeping with this argument, Pelagius maintains that Christ did die for the sake of all Humanity. For Pelagius, Christ's death provided a counter-example of virtue to Adam's example of wickedness (Pohle, 1913). Also, Christ's resurrection was proof that from sacrifice comes the joy of virtue (Pelagius, 1995, 41).

Notice that under the guise of condemning "hyper-Calvinism," Finney expressly attacked the idea that people are fallen and depraved because of a sinful nature inherited from Adam. That is the doctrine of original sin, not a hyper-Calvinist dogma, but a standard tenet of Christian doctrine—and recognized as such by all mainstream Christians since the Pelagian heresy of the Fifth Century.

Pelagius said, "Obedience results from a decision of the mind, not the substance of the body." (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 90, published by The Boydell Press)

An unknown Pelagian, "When will a man guilty of any crime or sin accept with a tranquil mind that his wickedness is a product of his own will, not of necessity, and allow what he now strives to attribute to nature to be ascribed to his own free choice? It affords endless comfort to transgressors of the divine law if they are able to believe that their failure to do something is due to inability rather than disinclination, since they understand from their natural wisdom that no one can be judged for failing to do the impossible and that what is justifiable on grounds of impossibility is either a small sin or none at all." (The Letters of Pelagius and his Followers by B. R. Rees, pg 167-168, published by The Boydell Press)

An unknown Pelagian, "Under the plea that it is impossible not to sin, they are given a false sense of security in sinning...Anyone who hears that it is not possible for him to be without sin will not even try to be what he judges to be impossible.

An unknown Pelagian, "Consider first whether that which is such that a man cannot be without it ought to be described as sin at all; for everything which cannot be avoided is now put down to nature but it is impious to say that sin is inherent in nature, because in this way the author of nature is being judged at fault…